In the business world, people come across many scenarios where they need answers to their questions to make a decision, or maybe they need to solve a problem related to their business. A set of data accumulated during the working time of the business may enable them to complete this task. All such situations need data in a specific format or they need to view business data from a different angle. This is where ad hoc reporting comes into play.
There are several .net reporting solutions available that enable end-users to produce a customized report to get data in the layout that they specifically want for their use. This helps data analysts to perform data analysis in a real-time manner.
The same bulk of data may be used but using the different report layouts available through this ad hoc reporting builder and applying certain filters or conditions, data can be presented into a form that is required by the end-user. These requirements may differ from user to user or they may vary according to the type of requests made by management or consumers.
Some reporting solutions also provide a dashboard facility where multiple reports can be viewed side by side for more clarity and in-depth analysis of the data. These products provide a powerful way to perform Business Intelligence and data analytics on almost any business and a detailed analysis of the data trends can be generated.
As Thomas H. Davenport, an American academic and author specializing in advanced analytics, business process innovation, and knowledge management says “Every company has big data in its future, and every company will eventually be in the data business.”
Now we come to the more important part, we know that the businesses today are built on raw data and we know that predictive analytics and reporting are an integral part of business operation and serve as a foundation for identifying core problem areas. This is the task of the developer to keep these issues in mind when planning to build a reporting platform for their business.
In this article, we would focus on the key phases that developers need to focus on when building a reporting platform to satisfy the data needs of a business efficiently.
First Phase – Data source
Data is the core for any business platform so developers must put great effort into choosing a data source that is flexible and that would store data in a suitable format for later access and manipulation.
Many developers nowadays are moving to cloud-based data sources and software applications as it performs the majority of its tasks and processes remotely through the cloud server and at the same time serves the client as if it is hosted on-premises. This means that all functionality of a regular business application is performed in the same way but through a remote location.
This “cloud-based” setup is very beneficial to businesses as they do not need to spend on additional IT related hardware and servers, even if they want to expand their business, rather they would just purchase a cloud data source that best suits their business needs and all backend tasks would be handled remotely.
Data syncing is done regularly and freshly updated data is accessible all across the business environment through any device anywhere making the cloud-based application an attractive choice for businesses that wish to grow and expand their product line. Data encryption and security protocols are globally enforced by the cloud application to provide secure and seamless business transactions.
“If someone asks me what cloud computing is, I try not to get bogged down with definitions. I tell them that, simply put, cloud computing is a better way to run your business.”
– Marc Benioff, Founder, CEO, and Chairman, Salesforce
There are many different types of cloud-based analytical tools available depending upon their functionality and the service that they are providing to their customers.
IAAS – Infrastructure as a Service
IAAS provides a virtual environment to support the computational and business needs of any business. This is done by providing a range of virtual services that can help businesses build their infrastructural foundation and build a unique business environment suited to their specific needs.
The resources include data servers, database software applications, and backend data silos through which companies can configure and manage their business data.
PAAS – Platform as a service
PAAS services offer their customers a software data platform that can help them to set up a data source and work with cloud applications. The platform as a Service may include different middleware software to manage their operations and run their business processes smoothly. It also includes newer development tools that help to increase business productivity and automate business processes.
Tools to build and deploy cloud-based platforms
A range of tools and architecture are available to deploy cloud-based applications that can identify trends with a means to implement and manage their business data source effectively. Here, we are listing some cloud-based software providers that are popular in the market. They provide a reliable and secure cloud framework for managing your business operations.
Microsoft Azure provides IAAS and PAAS cloud-based services for their customers. It helps enterprise-level businesses to set up their business environment efficiently. Microsoft Azure offers a platform for setting up database management software and other SAAS cloud-based applications for businesses to increase business operability.
Amazon Web Service (AWS)
Amazon Web services are considered the king of cloud computing and cloud-based applications. It has earned this title with more than 140 AWS tools and applications that provide different cloud services to businesses worldwide. AWS can help businesses set up any platform and start their business work environment with complete security and reliability.
Google cloud platform
Google suite for cloud-based applications and services are also very popular for their remote systems. It can get any business started and ready to operate remotely and offers Cloud storage, database services, and virtual machines. Google data platform helps to automate business processes for their clients.
Oracle Cloud Infrastructure
Oracle offers a high-performance infrastructure for cloud applications and clients can build robust business data platforms using this cloud computing platform. It provides enhanced performance to help businesses automate their operations with efficiency and a smooth working experience. Oracle platform supports hybrid data science architectures including public regions and edge computing. It has full support for VMware environments and other options as well.
Second Phase – Software Application
A lot of off-the-shelf software products are available in the market that can be plugged into the database software at the user end and provide a layer of services to process data and generate business reports for end-user manipulation.
Some examples are dotnet report builder, Zoho Analytics, and Host Analytics. These software’s are easily embedded into the business management software and allows users to filter the data according to their own needs. They present data in a variety of meaningful charts and data visualizations that help users in decision-making. Data analytic software and reporting tools allow users to interact and view data in real-time.
These .net reporting tools have a unique way of reporting that helps data analysts perform in-depth analysis on the business data set and prepare beautiful visualizations for the end-user. This may help them to understand any business situation much more clearly and be able to take short-term and long-term decisions for their business growth.
The application layer gives insight into previous data so management can understand the market trend and how their products are performing over a long time or it may help them understand and realize their target goals for marketing their products.
Third Phase – User layer
The third phase deals with creating an easy to handle user interface for the end-users to perform their tasks efficiently. However much time and money are spent on the first two phases, if GUI is not user friendly, the reporting platform would lose its popularity. Developers need to design easy-to-understand menus and presentation layer operations that can be learned with minimum training and run efficiently by the end-user.
Embedded Reporting solution
Embedded Business intelligence and data reporting solutions have had a great impact on end-users giving them the benefit of flexibility and familiarity with the environment. The new .net solution is directly embedded into the existing business software making the usage and management very smooth and easy.
Options to Customize
The new data reporting solutions have options for end-users to customize data and generate reports according to their business needs. This feature helps End-users to create a variety of reports and data visualizations from a historical data set. Customized data dashboards and ad hoc reporting are some other features that make the user layer easier to manage.
The user layer should provide clarity of information and ease of use for analysts to smoothly run the data analytics and generate meaningful reports that shape business decisions and move it in the right direction.